Farmers Journal Cyclone Test
Scrub is no match for western-built Cyclone
Manufactured in Co Mayo, the heartbeat of machinery engineering in the west, we recently got our hands on a Major Cyclone rotary mower. With the prolonged spell of dry weather, farmers all over the country have been very busy draining and reclaiming land. Often such land may have a layering of rushes or scrub. With Major claiming to offer a machine with similar capabilities to a mulcher, but with a lower power requirement, we decided to try it out in such conditions.
At a first glance, the high standard of build quality and finish of the product stands out. Major says it has been designed for harsh conditions, and this was where we tested it out. In fairness, we couldn’t pick out any design flaws or issues. Major uses heavy-duty bespoke Comer gearboxes on the Cyclone, with each rotor having its own gearbox. Driving these gearboxes is heavy-duty PTO tubing with an over-run clutch and a 10mm shear bolt at the machine end. This shear bolt is designed to break if the blades come into contact with a foreign object, before any serious damage can be done. When working in rough terrain, we did come into contact with some stones and the shear bolt served its purpose.
Major uses Strenx 700 MC high-strength structural steel throughout the Cyclone, which also helps to reduce overall weight. Likewise, the undersole discs of the rotor are manufactured from Hardox 450 abrasion- resistant steel which helps protect the spring steel blades. All in all, the machine is very well put together. As standard, the Cyclone comes galvanised.
Getting up and cutting Major provided us with both the MJ31-280 and the MJ30-350, which had a respective cutting width of 2.8m and 3.5m. The first was a rigid-body machine while the wider 3.5m machine had a hydraulically folding wing on one side. Once in the field, the first step was to remove the locking pin and top link for the folding wing. Once folded down, the top link was once again locked into place.
This does two things. It prevents the wing from being accidentally folded up while running and ensures the scrub doesn’t push the oil back up through the ram which would cause the wing to almost glide over the scrub rather than cut it. When changing to transport mode, the top link is once again opened, the wing lifted and then locked again. This means the wing is prohibited from powering when on the road. It is a very simple well-thought out safety feature. The top link can also be adjusted in order for the machine to float along the ground and the working height set.
The setting up and attaching of the Cyclone is very straightforward. Coupling the tractor and Cyclone together is a matter of attaching the three-point linkage, the Walterscheid PTO shaft and one hydraulic hose (if it has a folding wing). The threepoint linkage frame is attached to rear chain links which are connected from the top link frame to the deck. This simple design allows the Cyclone to follow the contours of the ground.
The Cyclone is driven through the PTO shaft which runs at 1,000rpm. This powers a split-drive gearbox which in turn delivers the power to an inter-gearbox drive system (essentially each rotor has its own individual gearbox). The cutting height can be easily adjusted by removing bolts in the side skids and adjusting them to the desired cutting height.
At the rear, a heavy-duty roller supports the machine. This roller is attached to the side skids, allowing the entire unit move together. It can be adjusted independently if required. Forward speed is determined by both the material being cut and the ground conditions.
How does it cut?
Each rotor is fitted with four blades which are made from high-grade hardened spring steel. The bottom two curved blades do the cutting, offering it up to the top two blades, which then further chop the material. Every farmer will be aware that dense rushes are probably the most difficult crop you could put a machine into. We found that in dense rushes 4-4.5km/h was typically a suitable forward speed, but when things got very dense, to do a nice job we would drop it back to a little over 3km/h.
If you’re looking to cut rushes tight while chopping them finely, a second run over them at 6km/h plus (depending on ground conditions) would be required. If using a mulcher in similar conditions, forward speed would probably be reduced to 1-2km/h. Meanwhile, in lighter scrub or grassland, the machine could easily be pushed up to 6-8km/h plus, with ground conditions being the limiting factor.
When working in scrub conditions, safety is of huge importance. To prevent foreign objects being flung out from the rotors, hinged steel deflectors and a thick rubber curtain are positioned at the front, while a thick rubber curtain rests on the rear roller.
The Cyclone is like a hybrid between a topper and a mulcher. It’s easier to drive than a mulcher and can move much faster through heavy scrub, but one pass won’t do the same finish for the perfectionist. Although the Cyclone is slightly harder to drive than a topper, it will do a far better job and is well equipped to deal with dense scrub and rushes, where a topper would struggle in such conditions.
The Cyclone really caught my attention when cutting furze and lighter bushes. I was very sceptical about putting the machine into such undergrowth. However, with the backing of Major, we gave it a go and I was seriously impressed. The Cyclone was well capable of chopping furze bushes down to the clay.
From my experience with the Cyclone, it comes into its own when being used on a lower horsepower tractor which otherwise wouldn’t be able to sufficiently power a flail mower. Overall, I liked the design and build quality of the machine. If you are in the market for an all-rounder machine for carrying out tasks from topping grassland to clearing an area of scrub, the Cyclone should definitely be considered.
Irish Farmers Journal Machine Test, May 14th 2020